Online Services Volunteer

Please read through the job description and then fill out the application form.

  • Providing confidential crisis support (chat, text and emails) using agency procedures and policies, the Roberts’ Model of Crisis Intervention, and in consultation with the Contact Centre Coordinators
  • Providing information and referrals to Distress Centre programs and community organizations
  • Addressing risk factors including, but not limited to, suicide, child safety, self-harm, and domestic violence
  • Handling multiple contacts to ensure individuals are safe and that everyone is heard
  • Documenting and creating reports on all contacts
  • Volunteers are also required to answer contacts for our partnership line Canadian Suicide Prevention Service (CSPS*)
    • *CSPS is a nationally available, regionally delivered 24/7 suicide intervention service. The purpose is to decrease service gaps nationwide to anyone thinking about, or affected by, suicide. Distress Centre Calgary is one of the pilot sites on this Canada-wide initiative

There is an expected commitment of 48 shifts over 12 months with a minimum of 4 shifts per month. The shifts are 4 hours in length and range from 6am-10:30pm daily.

Volunteers set their own schedules based on their availability or they can correspond with the Volunteer Scheduling Coordinator. There will be occasions where, due to unforeseen circumstances, the volunteer may need to stay past the formal shift end time. Credit hours will be given in accordance with the time spent.

  • Over 18 years of age and reside in the province of Alberta (Under 18? Volunteer with ConnecTeen instead!)
  • Exceptional command of communication and interpersonal skills including: active listening, empathy, and patience
  • Ability to be level-headed in a crisis
  • Works well with others
  • Demonstrates self-awareness in areas such as: coping, stress-management and emotions
  • Ability to receive developmental feedback
  • Non-judgmental, accepting of diverse values and beliefs, and open-minded to callers with a variety of concerns
  • Excellent computer skills
  • Willing and able to follow policies and procedures
  • Basic navigation of Windows or Mac OS
  • Office 365 (SharePoint, Outlook, Teams)
  • Have home computer set up that is able to juggle multiple tabs and programs at once
  • Adequate internet connection
  • Confidential working space
  • Working headset and microphone

Experience with the following would be an asset:

  •  iCarol
  • Wildix (or familiarity with another contact centre telephony system)

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 10 or 11. MacOS Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey
  • RAM: 8 GB minimum

Note: A criminal record and child welfare check (if volunteer is over 18) are to be conducted on every new volunteer with their consent at no cost to themselves.

Our volunteers do not need prior knowledge or experience in crisis support. Distress Centre offers comprehensive training to all new volunteers in topics including, but not limited to: crisis intervention, addictions, youth issues, and domestic violence. Distress Centre’s initial training includes 35 classroom hours (including independent modules) and 12-20 hours of supervised coaching shifts, with opportunities for additional developmental monthly training.

Training takes place over a 3-week period with a combination of Microsoft Teams classroom sessions and self-paced online modules. Classroom training is followed by supervised shifts where trainees support service users remotely. Attendance is required for all of the training modules and coaching shifts before you will be able to be on the lines solo.

Note: Alternative arrangements for training dates are limited. Volunteers-in-training are expected to attend all sessions.

  • All shifts are conducted off-site
  • Online Services Crisis Line Volunteers must have:
    • access to a computer or laptop with an up-to-date operating system and virus protection. They also must be willing to download external applications (e.g., Microsoft Teams) onto this computer
    • access to a high speed and stable internet connection
    • a workspace that ensures the security and confidentiality of client information (e.g., a home office with a door). This workspace should also be well illuminated, with a clear path to an exit in case of fire, well-ventilated, heated, and contain an ergonomically designed desk/table and chair. A virtual inspection of your workspaces may be requested as needed
  • Volunteers are paired with mentors whose responsibilities include providing developmental feedback, debriefing, regular reviews, and support throughout the volunteer’s commitment
  • Feedback is also provided to the volunteer by the Contact Centre Coordinator at least once per shift
  • Distress Centre invests in the volunteers and provides the support, resources, and the opportunities needed to grow and create change in the community
  • Make tangible differences in others’ lives and feel community connectedness
  • Development of communication and social skills to integrate into your personal/professional life
  • Gain and/or enhance perspectives on self-awareness
  • Obtain training and support in effectively assessing and de-escalating crisis/high stress situations
  • Be a part of a supportive team and create lasting friendships
  • Receive a reference letter upon completion of your first volunteer commitment

Still have some questions? Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Distress Centre uses Microsoft Forms for our volunteer applications.